David O’Brien was a Senior Researcher and the Assistant Research Director for Privacy and Security at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Working closely with Professors Jonathan Zittrain and Urs Gasser, he led a number of research initiatives and teams at the Center, including the Berklett Cybersecurity project, the Privacy Tools project, and the State Attorneys General Tech Forum on Privacy and Cybersecurity. David also teaches information security law. His research interests sit at the intersections of privacy & security engineering, national security, government hacking, surveillance, and regulation & governance.
David’s work has been featured in The New York Times, the MIT Technology Review, Just Security, and numerous academic journals. He has served on expert working groups at the World Economic Forum and the East West Institute, among others. In 2016, David received the Harvard Law School Dean’s Award for Excellence for his contributions to the Berklett Cybersecurity project and as lead co-author of the acclaimed report on encryption policy, Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the “Going Dark” Debate.
He first started contributing to Berkman Klein Center’s efforts in 2009 as a research assistant to the (now retired) Citizen Media Law Project, and later in 2010 as a researcher for the Center’s independent report as part of ICANN’s first Accountability and Transparency review. In early 2011, David formally joined the Center’s research team and since then contributed research and writing on emerging technologies, privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property, and internet governance.
Outside of the Berkman Klein Center, David was a co-founding editor and co-host of Technically Legal, a podcast which analyzed Internet caselaw and litigation in the news. The podcast ran from 2009-2012, retiring after publishing more than 110 episodes.
Before joining the Center, David advised clients on matters involving website terms of service and privacy policies. He earned a J.D. from Northeastern University’s School of Law, where he served on the Northeastern University Law Review staff, and a B.S. in Economics & Business Administration. While in law school, David held positions in the Copyright, Trademark, New Media & Entertainment practice group at Fish & Richardson in Boston, at Inverness Medical Innovations’ in-house legal department, and with the Hon. Judith Dein at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.